“Though much of my work exists digitally, I hold the materiality of design close,” says the Berlin-based designer Eloise Harris on the ethos of her practice. “I aim to design as a flawed human being and as a woman,” she tells It’s Nice That, and via a thoughtful design practice, she attempts to “celebrate physical touch, the dirty and the complexities of conversation.” In design, the Werkplaats Typografie graduate finds a space to value error. Wherever she can, she exemplifies the feminist practices that accurately reflect her process of making, not to mention herself as a maker.
First venturing into the world of graphic design during the end of her foundation diploma, Eloise recalls her early interest in images and language, and interestingly, its misuse. “I wanted to understand and be part of the mad visual cultures that surrounded me in London,” she adds, consequently enrolling in LCC’s Typo-Graphics undergraduate program before her master’s in Arnhem. Refining her systems of thought and expanding storytelling mechanisms in due course, Eloise goes on to tell us about three recent projects illustrating a sophisticated mode of thought as well as a precise attention to detail.
Utilising Jung-Lee type foundry’s typeface Pirelli as a centrepiece, Eloise’s design for the Cologne-based music festival Night of Surprise reimagines the festival as a character. “I concluded that [the festival’s character] is a strange chimera, a mythical creature of sorts,” says the designer, “it’s a patchwork of flexible beings that makes a new magical approach whole, the result being an exquisite corpse.” She kicked off the project by listening to the line up of artists selected for the German festival, picking out unique tones then sculpting characters out of clay as a response to the music. Developing the identity from there, Eloise’s final design culminates in an expression of hand rendered quirky characters juxtaposed against Jung-Lee’s bold typeface in a golden shimmery gradient signifying something “raw yet precious and somewhat on the move.”
In another project, Eloise was invited to “intervene” with the latest issue of the LA-based Autre magazine. Art directed by Scott Barry, the magazine’s design took place at the same time as the ravenous forest fires across California, an unavoidable force of nature for Californians which resultantly made its way into the design of the spreads. “We wanted to bring an alternate interface to the artworks featured, many of which dealt with the urgent topics of 2019,” says Eloise on her series of growing special effects for the publication. Designing a flickering fire to lick the pages from the inner fold outwards, the fire smokes out across the pages in a whisper of climate emergency.
For Migle, an identity for a new jewellery brand, Eloise was allowed to work in the way that best suits her, in a string of collaborative projects with friends. She started out by sketching earrings which are also part of the ear’s constructing, paying homage to Migle’s near-functional approach to jewellery making. The sketch quickly became the heart of the first campaign, working closely with Migle as well as photographer Justinas Vilutis to deliver Eloise’s vision of an “uglyish, approachable and fun” identity.
Going on to work with developer Rob Janes, photographer Marina Hoppmann for a second campaign as the brand evolved, and taking up Dinamo’s typeface Asfalt to provide a “perfect clash” to the elegant jewellery, Eloise and her collaborators devised a delicate balance of visual friction for Migle’s brand. As for the future, the designer hopes to work with more fashion brands as well as on more identities for empowering cultural institutions. Looking to convince more brands of “killer embroidery”, eventually, she’d like to “learn how to make a good living” through an international design practice while continuing to learn from teaching and breaking boundaries all at the same time.
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